Most of the defensive backs Cincinnati has met with and/or worked out are guys projected to be selected after Round 1. Taking a defensive back at No. 9 should be out of the question, but if the right guy is available in the latter rounds, perhaps the Bengals will pounce.
One such player could be Ohio State’ Gareon Conley, who the team is having a pre-draft visit with. Conley has already visited the Titans, Cowboys and Browns), and he’ll soon meet with the Bengals and Jets, according to Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com.
The 6-foot, 195-pound Conley developed into a quality starter for the Buckeyes over the last two seasons, racking up 75 tackles, six interceptions and 13 pass deflections through 26 games. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten pick in 2015 before earning second-team honors as a junior.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein gave a pretty favorable NFL comparison for Conley.
SOURCES TELL US: "He's not as good as the other cornerback (Marshon Lattimore), but he's a good corner. If he measures over 6-foot and runs in the low 4.4s he will come off the board on Thursday night." -- North area scout for NFC team
NFL COMPARISON: Aqib Talib
BOTTOM LINE: Press-corner with experience at both cornerback spots and an ability to fit into a variety of coverage techniques. He plays with good top-end speed and has the ball skills to challenge and defend passes on any level. He can step in right away in zone coverage, but could struggle to match patterns from a pedal. He will likely be targeted by teams seeking long cornerbacks who can crowd and trail receivers down the field. He has the talent to become an early starter, but he must improve in run support.
Conley is projected as a late first/early second-round selection, so pick No. 41 would be good value if the Bengals draft him there. He’s not gotten too much attention since fellow Buckeyes corner Marshon Lattimore is viewed as a top-10 prospect, but Conley has first-round talent as well.
Still, the Bengals need to steer clear of corners in the first two rounds unless it’s just a massive steal. Conley would be nice value at No. 41, but not enough that Cincinnati should take him instead of addressing more pressing needs.